About me


PROFESSIONAL INTERESTS: I started my career by doing a substantial amount of fieldwork (plant ecology related) in many tropical regions such as Australia, Panama, Costa Rica and mostly Ecuador. Additionally, to complement the knowledge acquired in the field, I have been able to take several classes/workshops related to Population Biology, Community Ecology and Tropical Conservation in institutions like Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute, Missouri Botanical Garden and the Organization of Tropical Studies. In the last four years, including my Masters research, I combined my two interests: plant ecology and forests conservation, by doing my investigation in plant invasion ecology. More about my present position at USFQ here


  • -PH.D. University of Florida-2015.
  • -M.S. Ecology, Evolution and Systematics, University of Missouri- Saint Louis-2010.
  • -Tropical Conservation Certificate-University of Missouri-Saint Louis-2010.
  • -B.A Biology, Universidad Catolica de Quito-2004.


  • Human influence on spreading of invasive plants
  • Spatial ecology analyses-Generalized linear models
  • Open access science
  • True collaboration in science

GEOGRAPHICALLY speaking I am interested in performing  ecology and conservation projects of the megadiverse Amazonian forest in Ecuador and the unique ecosystems of the Galapagos Islands.






Gonzalo Rivas-Torres, PhD

Profesor e Investigador-Tiempo Completo
Full time Professor and Researcher
Universidad San Francisco de Quito-USFQ
Colegio de Ciencias Biológicas y Ambientales-COCIBA
& Galapagos Institute for the Arts and Sciences-GAIAS


  • -Tropical Conservation And Development Program: Travel Award. Summer 2012.
  • -Quantitative Spatial Ecology, Evolution And Environment. NSF IGERT:  Fellow. 2011-2014.
  • -Organization For Tropical Studies Grantee: Ecology Field Course. January 2008.
  • -Parker-Gentry Tropical Research Fellow: Whitney R. Harris World Ecology Center, UMSL Louis. June 2008.
  • -World Wildlife Fund Scholar: Russell E. Train, Education for Nature Program. 2007.
  • -Organization Of American States Fellow: LASPAU-Americas Leadership Fellowship Program. June 2007/09.
  • -Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute (STRI) Intern, April 2005 – April 2006.


  • ESA 2016 Fort Lauderdale. Oral presentation.
  • ATBC 2015 Hawaii. Oral presentation
  • ATBC-OTS 2013, Costa Rica. Oral presentation.
  • Evolution Summit 2013 USFQ-GAIAS, Galapagos-Ecuador. Poster presenter. Evolutionary and ecological processes occurring among native and novel plant ecosystems in the Galapagos.


  1. Galapagos Science Center
  2. ATDN
  3. Luke Flory Invasion Ecology Lab
  4. Galapagos National Park
  5. Ecological Society of America
  6. ATBC
  7. IUCN Species Survival Commission
  8. ForestPlots


  1. Bette Loiselle’s Lab at UF
  2. Wildlife Ecology and Conservation-UF
  4. Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute
  5. Missouri Botanical Garden-RA
  6. University of Missouri Saint Louis


The main objective of my dissertation was to use plant population biology and community ecology as frameworks to understand the mechanisms and ecological interactions that enable exotic plants to invade new habitats.

Specifically, my dissertation examined why plant species that are not necessarily common in their native ranges can become extremely widespread, vigorous and therefore noxious in new sites.

Using comparative and experimental approaches, my dissertation tested what are the relative individual and combined contributions of key ecological factors that enable introduced plant recruitment in new areas.

This research will contribute to our understanding of the mechanisms that lead plant invasions to success. Additionally, I want to start exploring the role of humans in biological invasion processes and their perception about the introduction of exotic organisms into fragile ecosystems.

My dissertation’s fieldwork was performed in the Galapagos National Park, Ecuador.


As part of my dissertation I also collaborated with the thesis research of two Ecuadorian students.

Maria Gloria Rivas did her Bachelor’s thesis at Catholic University in which she investigated (using greenhouse experiments in Galapagos), if Cedrela odorata is having an allelopathic effect that can potentially reduce natives’ and enhancing non-natives’ recruitment capacity.

On the other hand, Isabel Dominguez, (who is doing her Master thesis at Catholic University) is interested in understanding how plant species composition is affected when Cedrela is removed as a restoration strategy.

I want to give a special thank  to the Galapagos National Park and all their staff and park rangers who have been helping in the implementation of our projects in the Galapagos province.

Photos from the field:


Scalesia peducnculata flowers. Scalesia is an endemic tree for the Galapagos and since ~mid 1900’s it has been competing with Cedrela odorata, a non-native tree dominating novel ecosystems in the Islands.


Scalesia tree growing surrounded by Cedrela adults.

DSCN2209All the seedlings from 8 species that were transplanted into experimental plots.


A hemispherical photo used to calculate the amount of canopy covered by Cedrela.




ALSO and very important, this page seeks to start a database of investigators working in Ecuador, WHAT are they doing and their present affiliations. I will start presenting my close collaborators BUT, in the near future I expect to have a wider data base of many other investigators working in the country.


Gonzalo Rivas




Bette Loiselle/John Blake U. of Florida http://loisellelab.org/research/




Ecology and Evolution of Fruit-frugivore Mutualisms YASUNI
Juan Guevara Berkeley http://ib.berkeley.edu/labs/fine/Site/Juan.html


Amazonian tree species community turnover, historic and evolutionary processes underlying. Ecuadorian Amazonia
Nigel Pitman Field Museum/ Duke http://fieldmuseum.org/users/nigel-pitman

ncp (at) duke (dot) edu


An ecologist and conservationist with a special interest in South American forests. He has been working with the FIELD Museum rapid inventory team since 2001, and has taken part in five inventories in Ecuador and Peru. Ecuadorian Amazonia
Diego Santiago Alarcon Instituto de Ecologia http://vertebratesandparasites.blogspot.com/p/estudiantes-students.html A mexican professor studying the ecology, evolution, and systematics of malaria and related parasites in wild vertebrates with plenty of experience in the Galapagos. Galapagos

IF YOU ARE AN INVESTIGATOR in the life sciences (and related fields) and is WORKING IN ECUADOR, please send me your information as presented in the table above and I will include you in this list. So far this is a very basic attempt to “map” investigation efforts in the country. BUT I expect to expand this in the future to be able to analyze gaps in research and therefore promote collaboration to fill those gaps.